This is a figure of speech that's been in my lexicon virtually forever. I'm not sure where I learned this, but to me it means "keyed up and ready to go". A combination of high energy, tension, and preparedness. I assume the etymology does come from winding a speaker coil and means something similar to "ready to rock".

I used it in something that's being translated to another language and the translator is asking me what it means. I wanted to fact check myself and, surprisingly, I could barely find a whiff of it on the Internet. Is this an unusual colloquialism?

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    I think there maybe a few variations of this phrase you may find more info on, I think it maybe 'wired for sound', which in my understanding meant that the object was particularly capable of processing or producing exception audio. Magical hands of a pianist or guitarist, i.e.
    – htm11h
    Jul 30, 2015 at 15:04
  • @htm11h - Yeah, I had the same thoughts... "wound for sound" might be a local variation of "wired..." - perhaps meaning something like: "I'm really excited about (going to a club, or concert, and) listening to some loud music."
    – Oldbag
    Jul 30, 2015 at 15:10
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    Since (as you've obviously discovered) it's not actually a well-known expression, and since you've been using it for a long time, perhaps you might tell us what you think it means. Personally, I doubt @Oldbag's guess - it seems more likely to be a reference to speaker coil windings. (But probably mainly just meaningless alliteration.) Jul 30, 2015 at 15:42
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    I would guess that "wound" in this case refers to being "wound up tight" -- excited, nervous, etc. And it alliterates well with "sound". I think I heard the expression a few times maybe 30 years ago.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 30, 2015 at 17:20
  • @HotLicks I think you meant rhyme. Alliteration is only concerned with the sequential beginning of the words, which isn't the case here and in this context, the end of the words do sound alike. Otherwise I do agree. Yes, this is a fairly rare but not unheard of phrase. I'm fairly sure the other sounds are empty and it's only uttered for the sake of poetic reduplication. You'll probably just want to translate emotional winding and find a new rhyme, maybe in some way related to sound if you can for optimal faithfulness.
    – Tonepoet
    Jul 30, 2015 at 18:13

3 Answers 3


A Google Books search finds just twelve unique for this phrase in the Google Books database, the earliest being from Ben Sloane, Horn: Hot Zone (1990) [combined snippets]:

The place was jumping, packed with miners and street people. The band was wound for sound, and it appeared to Horn that one would need a big shoehorn to get another couple onto the dance floor. He elbowed his way to the bar and ordered a beer, then looked around the joint as an edge of recklessness worked its way into his mind.

But the instance that may be responsible for whatever cultural resonance the expression currently enjoys is a decade younger. From Kevin Smith, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back: A Screenplay (2001) [combined snippets]:

SISSY (rubbing Chrissy's shoulders) Don't mind Chrissy. She's just a little too wound for sound.

CHRISSY Then how about you help me take the edge off?

Chrissy grabs Missy forcefully and the pair make out, hot and heavy in the middle of the convenience store. Other customers regard them wide-eyed.

JUSTICE (to Customers) They're really good friends.

As this excerpt suggests, "wound for sound" means "high-strung," "tightly wound," or "amped up."


From a website:

My dogs are all wound for sound this morning......must be the rain storms that are coming...... it is funny how a dog can sense a storm brewing. they all run around and run around like wild kids.........

From a poem by a tweaker as recorded on a drug information site about methamphetamine use:

Wound for sound and spun to the gun.
We’re tweaking and geeking, just having some fun.
Before we know it five days have gone by.

And in the post-ironic world where personal commerce has the final say, you may buy wound for sound for $15.57. Money back guarantee

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    The tweaker just seems to be making up nonsense phrases that rhyme.
    – Barmar
    Jul 30, 2015 at 18:16
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    @Barmar Sure. Disordered mental states give rise to word association based on sound alone (instead of meaning) often enough that psychiatrists have a name for it -- clanging.
    – deadrat
    Jul 30, 2015 at 20:52

wound for sound may mean full of energy, exited, and or hyper

i believe the terminology originated to old wind-up toys that if wound past a certain point the engine inside whine at a higher audio tone at first

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    I don’t think that etymology is very likely. It seems more likely to me that it’s simply a case of a rhyming expression. Wound in itself has more or less the same meaning as the phrase (as in wound up), and I’m guessing sound was just added as a word that sort of fit the general meaning and, more importantly, rhymed. Like cruising for a bruising (there’s no actual cruising involved, but close enough), etc. Dec 3, 2018 at 16:47

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